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San Francisco 6, Avalos 4, Mar 3, Chiu 3, Us 3, Rossi 2, Kate Howard 2, Farrell 2, Clearinghouse Organization 1, Fste 1, Julie Su 1, San Francisco 's 1, The City 1, Horizontal Unit 1, Db Unit 1, Smuda 1, Dr. Emily Rossi 1, Monique Smuda 1, San Meta 1, San Francisco County 1,
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  SFGTV    [untitled]  

    February 11, 2013
    6:00 - 6:30am PST  

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more cases to trial. there is a backlog that starts to build ever month and that backlog is reflected here. we're going by the number of cases that we're handling, the number of cases that we're trying, the number of cases that we're settling. we're not using the number of cases that the police department says is coming in, because frankly at the end of the day, that doesn't impact the bottom line for us. >> good afternoon everybody. supervisor mar, in the numbers that the budget analyst put in their report, the numbers are constant over the five years except for last year. there is a dramatic dip in the numbers for 2012. that we don't yet understand why. i think maybe you want to have a conversation with the police department about that, but it's not a five-year trend of a decline. it's a one-year drop in that number. we can't yet account for it and we have had a lot of cations between the budget analyst and
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the police department, but i think what the district attorney is saying that we have seen the opposite. it's just a one-year drop there. >> thank you. other questions that are related to the funding for the victim services? the problem is that at the same time we were requesting in addition to our victim services the state reduced the funding coming in. so the end result of this process is that we actually lost the funding from state for three people. we gained the funding from the general fund for three and we wind up as we were prior tour to our request. we're seeing an increase. we did not have that increase. >> supervisor avalos. >> thank you chair farrell and thank you d.a. gascon for your presentation. on your slide on page 5 you compare san francisco with santa clara county. just want to make sure that we're talk about an
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apples-to-apples comparison. how are these domestic violence units in each structure? are they structured in similar way? are there any staff borrowed from other parts the d.a.'s o ffice to handle workload compared to santa clara county? could you give us more detail on that? >> i appreciate that question, supervisor avalos, the reason why we picked santa clara, there was a number of reasons. no. 1 the workload is similar to us, but also they are the only other county in the bay area that has vertical prosecution and vertical for felonies. what does that mean? when you have a vertical prosecution unit, when you are doing is that you have the attorney that picks up the case from the very beginning takes the case all the way through trial and conviction. when you have a horizontal unit, you have multiple individuals, that may be picking up pieces of the case. somebody may take the case to
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arraignment. if it's a felony, somebody else may do the preliminary hearing and somebody else may eventually try the case. the downside in domestic violence when you do business that way, is that you lose continuity and the trust of the victim. and domestic violence is one of those areas where the relationship between the victim and the prosecutor is crucial, because the very beginning we're dealing with victims that generally reluctant. typically a domestic violence victim does not want to prosecute the offender. why is that? the offender is often the breadwinner. the offender is often someone who who is in a relationship where there may be children involved and the victim is looking for a way to fix the problem without necessarily prosecuting the case. unfortunately, we know that historically the problem does not get fixed unless there is very aggressive intervention. we know that the likelihood of
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an increase in violence is very, very high. so while we have a problem with victims that usually want to say my case is a little different. i know that if i talk to johnn y, he will not do this again. we recognize that traditionally johnny is not only going to continue do this, but the violence level is going to increase. we're trying to work with the victim in more of a relationship that our prosecutor and our victim advocate develops with the victim, the more likely we're able to take the case through. unless it's a very serious case that they will go to prison, the fact that the offender is going to return, what we want to do is we want to have very aggressive intervention early on. we want 52 weeks' of domestic violence required with my state law and that the offenders gets the message that is not
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acceptable behavior early on. in the horizontal configuration in misdemeanor, that is very difficult to do. santa clara does the same thing we do in san francisco. we have a vertical unit and that is why you are seeing apples with apples. you are seeing the staffing of one unit against the staffing of another. similar configuration for our prosecution model and very similar workload. >> and just to follow-up on that question, you have -- there are many more staff that are dedicated in santa clara county than in san francisco county. you have a person who discharging. you have another paralegal. you have advocate, where there isn't an advocate in san francisco and you have other support staff. does that mean that the people in san francisco who are in this part of the unit, who are three are handling all of those other work dutis that these other additional stuff araff are doing in santa clara county? >> with the victim's services piece of it, the victims
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service comes out victims advocates and this is the unit that i brought you earlier. let me get the right side. 12 victim advocates handling 440 cases per year and that we have seen a steady increase in their workload. here, you have victim services people that are handling domestic violence that are also maybe handling other cases. the lack of continuity, again, that we seek from a total vertical prosecution process we cannot do when we have victim services that are not solely dedicated to domestic violence. so yes, we are growing from our 12 victim advocates pool, and we're trying to say no. 1 those people are already overworked. no. 2 we really want those -- we want a segment of this unit to come into the db unit like in santa clara because we know that is a better prosecution model. >> so then, you are saying
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this configuration up until recently has served the district attorney's office in handling domestic violence cases, but because there are additional -- a great escalation in cases going to court, going to trial, that is putting a strain on your ability to meet the challenge? >> well, i'm not so sure -- the reality is that we have been understaffed and underfunded for a very long time. and the workload in the db unit has been one that we have not always reached the level of efficiency and effectiveness that i would like to see. that has been aggravated by the increase in workload in the last year. >> i don't mean to use the wrong word "served." and i understand we also have the public defender here, and we have had both the d.a. and the public defender in this committee in past years,
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talking about just how with our bad budget years we have higher caseloads and do much more with less staff. that is just the reality. i understand that has been a constraint on your department. >> well, it is. if we want to talk about comparisons in workload, i think it's important to understand how the two units are structured and what the responsibilities are. we handle 100% of the universal council criminal cases through the courtrooms. the problem has accumulated over many years and i don't want to lead you to believe it just occurred yesterday, but if you look at the chart that i have here. it shows the number of court events that the office hans handles every year. we're handling a significantly larger number and it's true that not ever court event requires the same level of work, because some are simple
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and some are very complex and the reality is that any court event that occurs in a criminal court, a state criminal court in san francisco, the district attorney is going to be there and the complexity level is going to be equal for both sides. additionally, we handle a whole host of cases, including special prosecutions that generally the public defend ser is not involved in. we may have hundreds and hundreds of hours of investigative work time and quite frankly box loads of papers. so i think while it's important to recognize not ever court event is equal, i think it's also important to recognize that court events are the only metric that we have today that no one can manipulate. because every time a lawyer walks through the courtroom
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door and everyone says we're here for the people and the public defender on behalf of the defendant, that ticket is punched once. we don't manipulate that number and no one else does and that is why court events are a very important metric and when you look at that number, you will see we're terribly understaffed. >> thank you. president chiu. >> i had a couple of quick follow-up comments. you made the comparison with santa clara county, but for our colleagues', if you compare our caseload it's 233% higher than that county. if you look at san meta, we're 67% higher than san mateo. i think that is interesting from my perspective and the conversations that i had from the district attorney's office have to do about the fact that cases are not settling.
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have you made any changes to how you charge or settle cases? what is your sense of why we have seen this trend? >> our policy has been very constant for many years. we have seen a shifting in policy at the public defender's office, but i'm really not qualified to speak to that. we have heard on the record often especially from the supervisor in the unit or lawyers have been directed to say that they are settling a case against the best advice of their defense attorney and often this has to do around area of the 52 weeks' of counseling. the law concerning domestic violence-related cases dictates that part of this process requires that the defendant, if
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convicted, has to attend 52 weeks' of domestic violence counseling. we believe that the 52 weeks' of domestic violence counseling are very important in the process of intervening and preventing future events. it is required by law. i think that in the public defender's office has been developed the view that they would like to settle for a charge other than a domestic violence case, where the individual may go through anger management and that is a much shorter period of time. we do not believe that statistically speaking the evidence supports this is a good approach in dealing where domestic violence cases. so consequently there has been a shift in the policy of settlement. we have been very much consistent in the way we do business. >> just for our colleagues, could you give us a sense of the difference, what it means for cases -- what it means for the workload for cases that settle versus don't settle? i think for folks who aren't attorneys to understand how it
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impacts the workload qualitatively and quantitatively. >> it does both. quantitatively the hours involved are significantly higher. settling a case could be a very simple process when the two parties evaluate the evidence, you know, there is an agreement as to what the outcome should be and that can be done in relatively short period of time. in the trial, there is a great deal of preparation. it's not unusual for the attorney to have to work over the weekend and put in 18-40 hours in preparation for a trial. obviously we have to bring witnesses, both expert witnesses, the police and others. so it's a much more complicated process and the impact on the hours that are
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spent, it just increases exponentially. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. >> at this time i would like to invite up dr. emily rossi, the executive director of the department of status of women. >> good afternoon chair farrell, committee members avalos and mar, i want to thank president chiu for bringing forward this very important proposal. we have worked very closely with the district attorney on many of theses issues. as you know domestic violence is a very significant problem. here in san francisco, there are about 4,000 cases of domestic violence reported to the police department. and those are only the cases that are reported. any one of those cases could become a homicide. so we
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really believe this work is preventing death. in the proposal as far as the department is concerned three components, staffing, direct services and public outreach. it's very intentionally designed as a comprehensive approach per president chiu's leadership. in terms of staffing, i just want to put up a visual of our department staffing from fiscal year 2001 to today and you will see that over time we almost had eight staff at the beginning of the 2000's and we're now down to 5.0 fste. i have six people in my office, three working part-time. part of these reductions reflect the fact we have tried to keep cuts away from our direct services, as much as possible.
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in your handout you have a time line of achievements that this policy analyst helped us achieve in the time that we had that position. in 2002 we released a comprehensive report for san francisco's response to domestic violence and lists hundreds of recommendations by departments and we worked very intensively and collaborative with the other agencies to make sure that those recommendations were followed. in 2006 we conducted a safety audit for looking at our different partners in the criminal justice agencies and how well we were serving victims of domestic violence. in 2007, we started a two-year domestic violence response crosstraining institute on a victim-centered response to
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domestic violence. we trained 435 personnel. and i just want to mention one other way this position is so essential to our work. because of this work, because of the work of the justice oversight panel we were able to make important changes to 911 and police codes. before domestic violence was lumped into "general assault" category and now we have a specific code for domestic violence, for child abuse, elder abuse and stalking and in terms of lethality of domestic violence cases, stalking is a very important indicator. finally this staff person was reresponsible for producing our family violence counsel report that brings together statistics on child abuse, eder abuse and domestic violence and really, this past year, because we didn't have a full-time staff person, it was really up to a graduate-level volunteer from the department of public health to put this report together. and this is the city's business.
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this is really the city's business and we need to be responsible for these kinds of reports. moving now to "services." we have a proposal to augment funding for our legal services. under the leadership of our president julie su, we convened three committee meetings last november to really surface those issues that are emerging. and one of the themes that came out of these community meetings was the need for expanded legal services, domestic violence cases typically take longer. they are very labor-intensive. we heard consistently that the partner agencies that we work with could really benefit from increased community-based legal services. one of the things that came out of the community meetings also was a serious lack of community-based legal services
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dedicated to spanish-speaking victims and our proposal is to go towards that. the last piece of the proposal is "public outreach." we have partnered with the casa delas madres and we're focused on peace at home, a postcard with resources that goes out to schools, libraries and after-school programs and finally, one billion lives and you have a flier in your packet. and we have executive director susan swan of 1 billion rising and she will explain more about that event happening next thursday on valentine's day. lastly,, i just want to ask one of my commissioner, to say a few words. >> hello my name is alicia gomez and i would just like to underscore in following up with the important work that d.a. gascon does in his department,
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and underscore there is very important community-level work being done by outside of the justice center and outside of the police system by very, very brave community service workers and community-based organizations. as a result of the community meetings that we did have, we did hear quite a lot that among the most vulnerable [kph-ublt/]s are the recent immigrant non-english-speaking and in particular spanish-only speakering or marginal -english-speaking communities that they are an underserved population. the most effective intervention is the linguistically and culturally appropriate intervention and i would strongly encourage you to support this proposal, because it does provide funding to an organization that precisely targets that population. they can provide very effective
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counseling to women who -- to victims, who are foreign to this system, who are unfamiliar with what happens when you call the police or what your rights are? who are actually new to a country, and perhaps outside of social services or family support networks that would otherwise help intervene in these situations. and really provide an opportunity to get them acculturated to advocate for themselves or go to the appropriate governmental agencis when necessary. in particular, what we need is appropriate legal advice, this group does serve as a gateway, clearinghouse organization and they do provide referralals to
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the appropriate other organizations that provide pro bono or low-cost legal services. that without with women who have -- don't nowhere to go and don't know what their rights are would be at a loss. so i again stringly ong strongly ask to you support these recommendations for these funds. >> supervisor mar, i just wanted to thank director rossi and director gomez for the importance of this program. and i know the group very well and the work of legal outreach, which i used to be a law clerk in '87, quite a few years ago, but i know how important the community-based support for victims is. i'm strongly supportive of the different programs in the proposal, but i wanted to ask
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if director rossi could address the budget analyst's recommendation that reducing from .5 fte to .3 fte. >> we were wishing this would move much quicker, but given the timeline that is an ap propriate percentage for the fte this year. >> thank you, colleagues, my other questions? okay. seeing none, i know -- >> supervisor avalos. >> we're going to have public comment here as well in a second, but one thing that gave me great pause as someone who is a co-sponsor to this amend and the ordinance is that there
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is going to be an impact for our next year's budget and that if we're approving these positions now, we're basically front-loading next year's budget in terms of services, out in the community. in terms of a new position in the department of status of women. first of all, i would like to know what the mayor's budget instructions were to departments at the beginning of the budget cycle? i think all the departments were expected to cut about 1. -- what was it 1.5%? to their budgets. does that mean in we're moving these items forward, and we approve these items, does that mean that the d.a.'s office will not have to fulfill the mayor's budget instructions and are we expecting other departments as well will not have to fulfill the mayor's budget instructions? is that going to be across the board in all departments will be exempt? or the mayor's budget instructions are no longer in effect? that is a question to the mayor's budget director. >> thank you, supervisor, through the chair, kate howard,
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mayor's budget director. that is quite a set of questions you have asked, but i think all onpoint. when the city decides to move forward with a supplemental in the middle of a year, that discretionary, as this is. it has to be such an important priority that we have to do the front loading that you described and for that reason the mayor is very supportive and the da and the department on the status of women need these services out and out in the community as soon as possible. in terms of what it means. >> you are making a commitment for the next year as well that the mayor will be approving these positions in his budget? that is going to be submitted, that will have increased staffing for the department of status of women and for the d.a.'s office? >> in terms of what i would expect for next year, i would
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expect to see these positions included in the mayor's budget submission going forward. when you move forward a supplemental in the middle of the year, it does have annual consequences. that doesn't mean that our budget instructions are withdrawn. we'll still be working with the d.a., and the department on the status of women, as well as with every other department, to identify savings equivalent to 1.5% of their budget. so we're beginning those conversations now. >> so their budget could still increase by 20%, but if you cut 1.5% of that 20% increase, that is essentially fulfilling that obligation? >> something like that. >> okay. just a question for the controller. and deputy controller smuda. we'll have our six-month report come out by the end of this week and we'll have a sense of
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where we are in the budget year and the impact for next year's budget. we'll probably get a draft version of what kind of deficit we're looking for next year? are you able to share any of that right now with the trends that we're seeing? >> through the chair to the committee, monique smuda from the controller's office. yes, we will have a report completed either by the end of this week or early next week on the six-month budget status, that will project both the revenue and the expenses. it's important to note that with the year-end close of fiscal year 12-13 there was increased revenue that was realized. and that increased revenue continues in the base budget in the current year. so the report will show excess revenue over the budgeted amount. however, as kate howard -- in
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the calculation that the mayor's office has developed for the deficit, that additional revenue was taken into account. so that is one of of the reasons that the targets for only 1.5%. we are also looking on the expenditure side. we have a few departments that have some savings. we have some departments that are over expending and the report will go into detail on those departments that are overbudget to determine what if any intervention will be needed to bring them back into balance? and so that needs to be taken into account as well. so at this point there is not too much additional revenue above and beyond what the mayor's office has projected, but we do have some departments that are overexpending their budget. >> could you say what the last projected deficit was for fiscal year 13-14?
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>> $129 million. >> so we're still around that same number, you would say? >> yes. yes, we are. >> okay. i should have written down my question, because i can't remember what else i was going to ask about that. i know that we're going to have other supplementals that will come before this committee, supplemental appropriations and some are driven by a great need and i hear that the department of public health has one coming forward because there are serious deficiencis in the budget that need to be get remedied. i have heard rumbles of fire department supplemental and i have heard rumbles of a public defender supplemental and all are responding to a great need that we have in the destroy. city. i am concerned how can we handle all of these with a projected budget deficit coming forward. i think those are things that

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